A few days ago former Liberal hatchetman Michael Baume had an opinion piece (subscription required ?) in the Fin, denouncing ‘scaremongers’ who suggested that the US wanted to scrap the Pharmaceuticals Benefit Scheme as part of the proposed Free Trade Agreement, and quoting a string of official denials.
In today’s Fin, I read that the US is demanding ‘reform’ of the PBS. Anyone who has experienced reform in the last decade will be able to fill in the details.
This kind of dishonesty is par for the course in the pro-FTA camp. Alan Oxley of AUSTA has adopted precisely the same rhetorical slide. As I pointed out in my debate with Wolfgang Kasper onthis topic a few months ago
The Austra submission to the Senate Inquiry into the FTA denies any intention to ‘dismantle’ the scheme, but notes, ominously, that ‘there are features of the scheme that discourage investment by drug companies in Australia. Austa supports measures in the FTA which encourage more investment and job growth in Australia’. It is safe to conclude that the ‘features’ seen as discouraging investment and job growth are the same ones that provide Australians with access to affordable drugs.
What surprises me is not the dishonesty, but the belief that this kind of thing will take people in, when the facts are so easily available.